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Agenda & Minutes

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Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session Agenda and Minutes

Monday, February 22, 2016

The study session of the Medford Planning Commission was called to order at noon in the Lausmann Annex Room 151-157 on the above date with the following members and staff in attendance:
Commissioners Present
Patrick Miranda, Chair
David McFadden, Vice Chair
Tim D’Alessandro
David Culbertson
Norman Fincher
Joe Foley
Mark McKechnie
Jared Pulver      
Staff Present
Jim Huber, Planning Director
Bianca Petrou, Assistant Planning Director
Kelly Akin, Principal Planner
John Adam, Principal Planner
Kevin McConnell, Deputy City Attorney
Jennifer Jones, Planner III
Carla Paladino, Planner IV
Commissioner Absent
Bill Mansfield, Excused Absence              
1.            Multi-Family Design Standards
Jennifer Jones, Planner III, reported that staff has the results of the last Planning Commission study session interacting with the Visual Character Survey.  The Visual Character Survey (VCS) will help define the overall vision of multiple family developments within the City.  The Visual Character Survey was also given to the Site Plan and Architectural Commission on Friday, February 19, 2016.  Data from the VCS was tallied and analyzed.  Highlights of the results were presented to the Planning Commission for their consideration and discussion.
Carla Paladino, Planner IV, stated that staff is going to write code to change or improve multi-family standards.  The Visual Character Survey is to get to the elements that need to be added that are not currently in the code.
The data cumulatively and by group was tallied in to the top 10% and the lowest 10% average overall score.

Staff presented the ten images that scored from negative 5 to positive 5 based on the degree the Planning Commission liked or disliked and whether it was appropriate in Medford.
The highest average score was a 3.4 with interest in architecture, street presence, landscaping, porches, materials, not automobile dominant and neighborhood friendly.
The second highest average score was 3.3 with interest in open space, site amenities, connections/trails, building orientation and landscaping.
The third highest average score was 3.1 with the Planning Commission scoring the image at 3.6.  The interest was in architecture, materials and reasonable landscaping.
The fourth cumulative average score was 3.0 with the Site Plan and Architectural Commission scoring the image a 2.8.  Interests were with neighborhood connections/compatibility, materials, architecture, interesting design, sidewalk/street connection, safety, and landscaping.
Fifth average score was another 3.0 with interest in amenities, connections, trails, lighting (human scale), not automobile dominant and density.
Sixth average score was 2.8 with interest in amenities, livable, sense of community, connections and architecture.
Seventh average score was another 2.8 with the interest in open space, natural amenities, landscaping/nature, orientation, natural environment is an asset.
Eighth average score was another 2.8 with interest in architecture, design and materials.
Ninth average score was 2.7 with interest in open space, building orientation, sense of community, connections, landscaping and lighting.
Tenth average score was another 2.7 with interest in neighborhood character, connections, infill options, street presence, sidewalk, landscaping, design and porches.
Commissioner Pulver asked if the idea is to provide standards for MFR-20 and MFR-30 or is it broader than that?  Ms. Jones reported that there are differences between townhouses and what is traditionally called multi-family use.  Three or more attached is defined in the Code as multi-family. Staff wanted to start the discussion in general; possibly specific recommendations from the Planning Commission or the standards may be different.
Commissioner Foley stated that the images shown had interesting architectural features.  Could those features throw the City of Medford out of the market?  Ms. Paladino stated that she could find out but probably not. 
Commissioner McKechnie replied that the simple answer is yes.  All the features shown in the images add to the cost dramatically.
Jim Huber, Planning Director, asked Commissioner McKechnie that putting the material cost aside, an architect friend of his said that bad design can cost as much as good design; how true is that?   Commissioner McKechnie stated that architects look at life time spans.  Ultimately a poor looking building tends to run down quicker and attract lower quality tenants.
Chair Miranda reported that another contributing factor would be whether the building fits in the neighborhood where it is being built.
Ms. Jones stated that you will get what the code requires.  If there are certain regulations it will apply to everyone and will hopefully get a better product.
First overall bottom 10 % lowest average score was a negative 3.0 with the building plain, no connections, no screening, no landscaping and not a place to see people.  The Planning Commission scored image number 94 a negative 2.7 and the Site Plan and Architectural Commission scored the image negative 4.2.
Second overall bottom 10% lowest average score was a negative 2.7 where automobiles were dominate, a lot of asphalt, no sense of community, no open space and no amenities.
Third overall bottom 10% lowest average score was a negative 2.3 that was plain, lack of architecture or interesting design/materials and minimal usable space.
Fourth overall bottom 10% lowest average score was a negative 2.2 with no design, lack of materials, flat, no articulation, no landscaping and no connections.
Fifth overall bottom 10% lowest average score was a negative 1.8 with not enough usable space, no privacy and no amenities.
Sixth overall bottom 10% lowest average score was another negative 1.8 with no screening of HVAC units, lack of landscaping, automobile dominate, no shade, no curbing, no connections and poor design.
Seventh overall bottom 10% lowest average score was negative 1.7 that was automobile dominant, too much asphalt, no usable green space and lack of design/materials.
Eight overall bottom 10% lowest average score was another negative 1.7 that was mostly asphalt, automobile dominant and no connections.
Ninth overall bottom 10% lowest average score was 1.4 with a lot of asphalt, automobile dominant, lack of interesting design, materials and no connectivity.
Tenth overall bottom 10% lowest average score was 1.0 that was too flat, lack of articulation and lack of design features.
The overall bottom 10% lowest average score was 0.9 that was plain design, could have better features, materials, safety issues, and no usable open space.
Based on comments that staff requested at the end of the survey can be summed up as:
•             Livability
•             Transit Options / Connections
•             Amenities / Open Space / Sense of Community
•             Proximity / Connections to Retail (grocery)
•             Density
•             Family oriented / Safety / Street Presence / Lighting
Commissioner D’Alessandro asked with lighting and safety is there anything in the Code that states that alleys and private streets must be lighted areas to make them safe?  Bianca Petrou, Assistant Planning Director, reported that private streets are only allowed in Planned Unit Developments.  Lighting can be added as a condition.
Commissioner D’Alessandro commented that this was a great exercise and if there is a way to make multi-family developments not look like boxes, without restricting the builders or paying 25% more for design, would be wonderful.
Ms. Jones left the Planning Commission on asking what are the next steps?  Do they want to get others to participate, more detailed results to report or are they ready to discuss specific code language?
Commissioner Fincher stated that he thought it would be good to get feedback from people in the industry such as builders, architects or developers.
Commissioner D’Alessandro reported that would be a good group to participate in the Visual Character Survey and then have a similar discussion.
Vice Chair McFadden stated that the slideshow could be televised on public television requesting the viewers to fill out the Visual Character Survey accessing through their computers.
Commissioner McKechnie commented it could be done off the City’s website.
Commissioner McKechnie reported that there were design standards for the Southeast Plan that may be a good place to take off from.
Commissioner Pulver stated that it is his opinion that one size fits all solution is challenging.  There are different types of projects that need to be sensitive to.
John Adam, Principal Planner, reported that design is something staff can do something about with code language.
Ms. Jones stated that there will be room for creativity and designs that the City of Medford has not seen before.
The meeting was adjourned at 1:04 p.m.
Submitted by:
Terri L. Rozzana
Recording Secretary

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